West Valley College

Online History 17A: United States History through 1865

Instructor: Stephen Juarez

Email: stephen_juarez@westvalley.edu

Phone: (408) 741-2556            

Office: Social Sciences Office 2c

Online Office Hours: Wednesday 8:00-9:00 p.m.

Course Description: This course will provide an overview of American history from prehistoric, aboriginal societies through European contact, colonization, independence, nation-building and Civil War. While the familiar outlines of U.S. political development necessarily will be addressed, the course will emphasize the ways in which ideas, race, culture, environment and economic interests have shaped the experiences of Americans who sought to shape and define (or resist) a colonial society and, later, the Republic. The various points of consensus and the clash of ideas, cultures, and interests in American economic, social and political development will be the dominant themes of this course.  It is expected that upon completion of this course, students will view American history as a dynamic process shaped by a multiplicity of factors including a fealty to ideas, the power of capital, the will of elites, and the collective aspirations of ordinary Americans. Moreover, it should become evident that similar forces continue to shape contemporary society, the history WE are in the process of shaping. 

Course content and requirements reflect the necessary standards of a UC/CSU transferable history survey.  Students will be responsible for approximately 75-100 pages of reading per week. It is essential that you keep abreast of your reading.  Students should make use of the online practice quiz feature for each set of readings to gauge comprehension of the given material.  Examination will be based upon both reading and lecture materials.

Please be aware of the English proficiency skills recommended for successful completion of this course. The college provides tutorial assistance to students in both reading and writing. If you believe that you might benefit from these services, please see me for further information. If in the course of my evaluation of your work I recognize the need for remediation, I may refer you to these services. Ultimately, however, the student is responsible for addressing any weakness that inhibits academic success. 

Required Readings:

Divine, et al, America Past and Present Vol. I.  

Zinn, Howard, A People's History of the United States.

Supplementary readings to be provided / assigned.


Course Evaluations shall be based upon the following:       

Course Participation 100 Points
Multiple Choice Quizzes (10) 100 Points
Midterm Exam I 100 Points
Midterm Exam II 100 Points
Final Exam 100 Points
Total Points Possible 500 Points


Exam format will be some combination of short essay/ multiple choice. 

Participation will be based upon your contribution to five (5) topic-driven discussions over the course of the semester.

Grades shall be based on the following formula:

A = 88 to 100%
B = 77 to 87%
C = 66 to 76%
D = 56 to 65%
F = 55% and below

Please note that this course may also be taken for Credit/No Credit. It is your responsibility to see the instructor to select this option no later than week five. "Credit" for this course requires the grade of "C" or better. 

Very Important: The Instructor reserves the right to modify ANY aspect of this syllabus or calendar to meet the particular demands/characteristics/dynamics of the class. Students shall be notified of any modification.